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American Red Cross

American Red Cross

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Encyclopedia
The American Red Cross (ARC), also known as the American National Red Cross, is a volunteer-led, humanitarian organization that provides emergency assistance, disaster relief and education inside the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. It is the designated U.S. affiliate of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

.

Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers services in five other areas: community services that help the needy; communications services and comfort for military members and their family members; the collection, processing and distribution of blood
Blood
Blood is a specialized bodily fluid in animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells....

 and blood products; educational programs on preparedness, health, and safety; and international relief and development programs.

Issued a corporate charter
Congressional charter
A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992 under Title 36 of the United States Code....

 by the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 under Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code
Title 36 of the United States Code outlines the role of Patriotic Societies and Observances in the United States Code.*Subtitle I—Patriotic and National Observances and Ceremonies*Subtitle II—Patriotic and National Organizations...

, Section 3001, the American National Red Cross is governed by volunteers and supported by community donations, income from health and safety training and products, and income from blood products. The American Red Cross is headquartered
American Red Cross National Headquarters
American Red Cross National Headquarters is a building in Washington, D.C. and was built between 1915 and 1917. The building serves both as a memorial to women who served in the American Civil War and as the headquarters building for the American Red Cross....

 in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

. The Chairman of the Board of Governors, serving her second three-year term, is Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is an American businesswoman who is the first female Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross. She is currently serving her second three-year term, the first of which began in June, 2004, when she was appointed to the post by U.S. President George W....

. The current President and Chief Executive Officer is Gail J. McGovern.

Founders



The American Red Cross was established in Washington, D.C. on May 21, 1881, by Clara Barton
Clara Barton
Clarissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. She is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.-Youth, education, and family nursing:...

, who became the first president of the organization. Barton first organized a meeting on May 12 of that year at the home of Sen.
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 Omar D. Conger
Omar D. Conger
Omar Dwight Conger was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the U.S. state of Michigan.Conger was born in Cooperstown, New York and moved with his father, the Rev. E. Conger, to Huron County, Ohio in 1824...

 (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, MI
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

). Fifteen people were present at this first meeting, including Barton, Conger, and Rep.
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 William Lawrence
William Lawrence (Ohio)
William Lawrence was a Republican politician from Ohio. He was most noted for being a US Representative, and was influential in attempting to impeach Andrew Johnson, creating the United States Department of Justice, helping to create the American Red Cross, and ratifying the Geneva...

 (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, OH
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

) (who became the first vice-president).

Jane Delano
Jane Delano
Jane Arminda Delano, born March 13, 1862 in Montour Falls, New York, United States – died April 15, 1919 in Savenay, Loire-Atlantique, France, was a nurse and founder of the American Red Cross Nursing Service.-Personal life:...

 (1862–1919) founded the American Red Cross Nursing Service
American Red Cross Nursing Service
The American Red Cross Nursing Service was organized by Jane Arminda Delano . A nurse and member of the American Red Cross, Delano organized the nursing service as the reserve of the Army Nurse Corps to be ready just before the entry of the United States into World War I.-See also:*Jane...

 on Jan. 20, 1910

Clara Barton


Clara Barton
Clara Barton
Clarissa Harlowe "Clara" Barton was a pioneer American teacher, patent clerk, nurse, and humanitarian. She is best remembered for organizing the American Red Cross.-Youth, education, and family nursing:...

 (1821–1912) had a career as a teacher and federal bureaucrat when the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 broke out. Barton liked teaching when she was younger. All of her older siblings became teachers. Her youngest sibling was 12 years of age, when Barton was born. Her brother David was always like a teacher to her. She taught her first class, at age 17. She also expanded her concept of soldier aid, traveling to Camp Parole, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, to organize a program for locating men listed as missing in action. Through interviews with Federals returning from Southern prisons, she was often able to determine the status of some of the missing and notify families.

After performing humanitarian work during and after the conflict, on advice of her doctors, in 1869, she went to Europe for a restful vacation. There, she saw and became involved in the work of the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

, and determined to bring the organization home with her to America.

When Barton began the organizing work in the U.S. in 1873, no one thought the country would ever again face an experience like the Civil War. However, Barton was not one to lose hope in the face of the bureaucracy, and she finally succeeded during the administration of President Chester A. Arthur
Chester A. Arthur
Chester Alan Arthur was the 21st President of the United States . Becoming President after the assassination of President James A. Garfield, Arthur struggled to overcome suspicions of his beginnings as a politician from the New York City Republican machine, succeeding at that task by embracing...

 on the basis that the new American Red Cross organization could also be available to respond to other types of crisis.

As Barton expanded the original concept of the Red Cross to include assisting in any great national disaster, this service brought the United States the "Good Samaritan of Nations" label in the International Red Cross. Barton became President of the American branch of the society, known officially as the American National Red Cross. Soon after the initial May 1881 meeting in Washington, on August 22, 1881, the first local chapter of the Red Cross was formed in village of Dansville, New York
Dansville, Livingston County, New York
Dansville is a village in the town of North Dansville in the eastern part of Livingston County, New York, United States. As of the census, the village population was 4,832. The village is named after Daniel Faulkner, an early settler. Interstate 390 passes next to the west side of the village.-...

, where Barton kept a part-time residence between 1876 and 1886. Subsequent local chapters were established in Rochester
Rochester, New York
Rochester is a city in Monroe County, New York, south of Lake Ontario in the United States. Known as The World's Image Centre, it was also once known as The Flour City, and more recently as The Flower City...

 and Syracuse
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

. Ultimately, John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller
John Davison Rockefeller was an American oil industrialist, investor, and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Standard Oil Company, which dominated the oil industry and was the first great U.S. business trust. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of...

, along with four others and the federal government, gave money to create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, located one block from the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

.

Barton led one of the group's first major relief efforts, a response to the Great Fire of 1881 (Thumb Fire
Thumb Fire
The great Thumb Fire took place on September 5, 1881, in the Thumb area of Michigan in the United States. The fire, which burned over a million acres in less than a day, was the consequence of drought, hurricane-force winds, heat, the after-effects of the Port Huron Fire of 1871, and the...

) in the Thumb region of Michigan, which occurred on September 4-6, 1881. Over 5,000 people were left homeless. The next major disaster dealt with was the Johnstown Flood
Johnstown Flood
The Johnstown Flood occurred on May 31, 1889. It was the result of the catastrophic failure of the South Fork Dam situated upstream of the town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, made worse by several days of extremely heavy rainfall...

 which occurred on May 31, 1889. Over 2,209 people died and thousands more were injured in or near Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
Johnstown is a city in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, United States, west-southwest of Altoona, Pennsylvania and east of Pittsburgh. The population was 20,978 at the 2010 census. It is the principal city of the Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes Cambria County...

 in one of the worst disasters in United States history.

In 1975, the Clara Barton National Historic Site
Clara Barton National Historic Site
The Clara Barton National Historic Site, which includes the Clara Barton House, was established in 1974 to interpret the life of Clara Barton , an American pioneer teacher, nurse, and humanitarian who was the founder of the American Red Cross. The site is located northwest of Washington D.C...

 was established as a unit of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 at her Glen Echo, Maryland, home near Washington, D.C. The first National Historic Site dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman, it preserves the early history of the American Red Cross and the last home of its founder. Barton spent the last 15 years of her life in her Glen Echo home, and it served as an early headquarters of the American Red Cross as well.

The National Park Service has restored eleven rooms, including the Red Cross offices, parlors and Barton's bedroom. Visitors to Clara Barton National Historic Site can gain a sense of how Barton lived and worked surrounded by all that went into her life's work. Visitors to the site are led through the three levels on a guided tour emphasizing Barton's use of her unusual home, and come to appreciate the site in the same way visitors did in Barton's lifetime.

Barton resigned from the American Red Cross in 1904.

Organization


The American Red Cross is a nationwide network of more than 650 chapters and 36 blood services regions dedicated to saving lives and helping people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies
Medical emergency
A medical emergency is an injury or illness that is acute and poses an immediate risk to a person's life or long term health. These emergencies may require assistance from another person, who should ideally be suitably qualified to do so, although some of these emergencies can be dealt with by the...

. More than a million Red Cross volunteers and 30,000 employees annually mobilize relief to people affected by more than 67,000 disasters, train almost 12 million people in necessary medical skills and exchange more than a million emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their family members. The Red Cross is the largest supplier of blood and blood products to more than 3,000 hospitals nationally and also assists victims of international disasters and conflicts at locations worldwide. In 2006 the organization had over $6 billion in total revenues; revenue from blood and blood products were over $2 billion.

Ranking


In 1994, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, an industry publication, released the results of the largest study of charitable and non-profit organization popularity and credibility. The study showed that the American Red Cross was ranked as the 3rd "most popular charity/non-profit in America" of over 100 charities researched with 48% of Americans over the age of 12 choosing Love and Like A lot for the Red Cross.

Chairmen

  • William K. Van Reypen 1905–06
  • Robert Maitland O'Reilly
    Robert Maitland O'Reilly
    Robert Maitland O'Reilly was the 20th Surgeon General of the United States Army, serving from September 7, 1902 to January 14, 1909....

     1906
  • George Whitefield Davis
    George Whitefield Davis
    George Whitefield Davis was an engineer and Major General in the United States Army. He also served as a military Governor of Puerto Rico and as the first military Governor of the Panama Canal Zone.-Civil War:...

     1906–15
  • William Howard Taft
    William Howard Taft
    William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

     1915–19
  • Livingston Farrand 1919–21
  • John Barton Payne
    John Barton Payne
    John Barton Payne was United States Secretary of the Interior from 1920 through 1921 under Woodrow Wilson.-Life and career:...

     1921–35
  • Cary T. Grayson 1935–38
  • Norman Davis
    Norman Davis
    Norman H. Davis , was a U.S. diplomat. He was born in Bedford, Tennessee. He served as President Wilson's Assistant Secretary of Treasury and later as Undersecretary of State....

     1938–44
  • Basil O'Connor
    Basil O'Connor
    Basil O'Connor was an American lawyer. In co-operation with US-President Franklin D. Roosevelt he started two foundations for the rehabiltation of polio patients and the research on polio prevention and treatment...

     1944–47, title changed to President, 1947–49
  • George Marshall
    George Marshall
    George Catlett Marshall was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense...

     1949–1950 (President)
  • E. Roland Harriman
    E. Roland Harriman
    E. Roland Harriman was a financier and philanthropist...

     1950–1953 (President), title changed to Chairman, 1954–73
  • Frank Stanton
    Frank Stanton
    Frank Nicholas Stanton was an American broadcasting executive who served as the president of CBS between 1946 and 1971 and then vice chairman until 1973. He also served as the chairman of the Rand Corporation from 1961 until 1967.Along with William S. Paley, Stanton is credited with the...

     1973–79
  • Jerome H. Holland
    Jerome H. Holland
    Jerome H. Holland was an educational administrator and diplomat.Jerome Heartwell Holland grew up in Auburn, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1939, after being the first African American to play on its football team...

     1979–85
  • George F. Moody 1985–92
  • Norman Ralph Augustine
    Norman Ralph Augustine
    Norman Ralph Augustine is a U.S. aerospace businessman who served as Under Secretary of the Army from 1975-77. Augustine currently serves as chairman of the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee.-Career:...

     1992–2001
  • David T. McLaughlin
    David T. McLaughlin
    David Thomas McLaughlin was the 14th President of Dartmouth College, 1981–1987. Mr. McLaughlin also served as Chief Executive Officer of Orion Safety Products from 1988 to December 31, 2000. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Aspen Institute from 1988 to 1997 and its...

     2001–04
  • Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
    Bonnie McElveen-Hunter
    Bonnie McElveen-Hunter is an American businesswoman who is the first female Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Red Cross. She is currently serving her second three-year term, the first of which began in June, 2004, when she was appointed to the post by U.S. President George W....

     2004–present

Leadership


Recent presidents and CEOs include Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

, Mary S. Elcano, Mark W. Everson
Mark W. Everson
Mark W. Everson serves as a cabinet member for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. He joined the Daniels administration in January 2009, when he was appointed Department of Administration Commissioner...

 and John F. McGuire. In 2007, US legislation clarified the role for the Board of Governors and that of the senior management in the wake of difficulties following Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

.

Celebrity Cabinet


Every year, the American Red Cross establishes a "National Celebrity Cabinet", started in 2002 as part of the "Entertainment Outreach Program" to help the ARC highlight initiatives and response efforts.

The public figures are described as being "on-call" to help the Red Cross by donating their time to lend their names to various projects.

2011 members include Penn Badgley
Penn Badgley
Penn Dayton Badgley is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Dan Humphrey on the CW television series Gossip Girl. He has also starred in the movies John Tucker Must Die, The Stepfather, and Easy A....

, Nate Berkus
Nate Berkus
Nathan Jay "Nate" Berkus is an American interior designer and daytime television host. He runs the Chicago interior design firm Nate Berkus Associates and has been a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, offering design advice to viewers. May 25, 2010, was his last day on The Oprah Winfrey Show...

, Greg Biffle
Greg Biffle
Gregory Jack "Greg" Biffle is a NASCAR driver who drives the #16 3M Ford Fusion for Roush Fenway Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. After racing in the NASCAR Winter Heat Series in the mid-90s, he was recommended to Jack Roush by former announcer Benny Parsons...

, Giselle Blondet
Giselle Blondet
Giselle Blondet is a Puerto Rican actress and TV host.-Early history:Blondet was born Alba Giselle Blondet, to Victor Manuel Blondet and Alba Gomez, in New York City...

, Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years...

, Jim Cantore
Jim Cantore
James D. Cantore is an American meteorologist. He is best known as an on-air personality for The Weather Channel.- Career :...

, Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan
Jackie Chan, SBS, MBE is a Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, comedian, director, producer, martial artist, screenwriter, entrepreneur, singer and stunt performer. In his movies, he is known for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, use of improvised weapons, and innovative stunts...

, Chayanne
Chayanne
Elmer Figueroa Arce , best known under the stage name Chayanne, is a Puerto Rican Latin pop singer and actor. As a solo artist, Chayanne has released 21 solo-albums and sold over 20 million albums worldwide.-Early life:...

, Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth
Kristin Chenoweth is an American singer and actress, with credits in musical theatre, film and television. She is best known on Broadway for her performance as Sally Brown in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown , for which she won a Tony Award, and for originating the role of Glinda in the musical...

, Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis
Jamie Lee Curtis is an American actress and author. Although she was initially known as a "scream queen" because of her starring roles in several horror films early in her career, such as Halloween, The Fog, Prom Night and Terror Train, Curtis has since compiled a body of work that spans many...

, Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus
Miley Ray Cyrus is an American actress and pop singer-songwriter. She achieved wide fame for her role as Miley Stewart/Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel sitcom Hannah Montana....

 and Josh Duhamel
Josh Duhamel
Joshua David "Josh" Duhamel is an American actor and former fashion model. He first achieved acting success in 1999 as Leo du Pres on ABC's All My Children and later as the chief of security, Danny McCoy, on NBC's Las Vegas...

.

Blood donation


The American Red Cross supplies roughly 44% of the donated blood
Blood donation
A blood donation occurs when a person voluntarily has blood drawn and used for transfusions or made into medications by a process called fractionation....

 in the United States, which they directly sell to hospitals and regional suppliers. Community-based blood centers supply 50% and 6% is collected directly by hospitals. In December 2004, the American Red Cross completed their largest blood processing facility in the United States in Pomona, California
Pomona, California
-2010:The 2010 United States Census reported that Pomona had a population of 149,058, a slight decline from the 2000 census population. The population density was 6,491.2 people per square mile...

, on the campus grounds of the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Tissue services


For more than twenty years, the American Red Cross provided allograft tissue for transplant
Organ transplant
Organ transplantation is the moving of an organ from one body to another or from a donor site on the patient's own body, for the purpose of replacing the recipient's damaged or absent organ. The emerging field of regenerative medicine is allowing scientists and engineers to create organs to be...

 through sales in its Tissue Services Program. It cared for thousands of donor families who gave the gift of tissue donation and sold donated tissue to more than 1 million transplant recipients in need of this life saving or life-enhancing gift of tissue. At the end of January 2005, the American Red Cross ended its Tissue Services program in order to focus on its primary missions of Disaster Relief and Blood Services.

Plasma services


A leader in the plasma
Blood plasma
Blood plasma is the straw-colored liquid component of blood in which the blood cells in whole blood are normally suspended. It makes up about 55% of the total blood volume. It is the intravascular fluid part of extracellular fluid...

 industry, the Red Cross provides more than one quarter of the nation's plasma products. Red Cross Plasma Services seeks to provide the American people with plasma products which are not only reliable and cost-effective, but also as safe as possible.

In February 1999, the Red Cross completed its "Transformation," a $287 million program that: re-engineered Red Cross Blood Services' processing, testing and distribution system; and established a new management structure.

As of 2011, the Red Cross is no longer in the Plasma Services industry. The Red Cross currently supplies Baxter BioSciences
Baxter International
Baxter International Inc. , is an American health care company with headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois. The company primarily focuses on products to treat hemophilia, kidney disease, immune disorders and other chronic and acute medical conditions...

 with plasma for the manufacturing of plasma products.

Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT)


On March 1, 1999, the American Red Cross became the first U.S. blood banking organization to implement a Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) study. This process is different from traditional testing because it looks for the genetic
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 material of HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 and hepatitis C
Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease primarily affecting the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus . The infection is often asymptomatic, but chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years...

 (HCV), rather than the body's response to the disease.

The NAT tests for HIV and HCV have been licensed by the Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

. These tests are able to detect the genetic material of a transfusion-transmitted virus like HIV without waiting for the body to form antibodies, potentially offering an important time advantage over current techniques.

Leukoreduction


A person's own leukocytes (white blood cells) help fight off foreign substances such as bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

, viruses and abnormal cells, to avoid sickness or disease. But when transfused to another person, these same leukocytes do not benefit the recipient. In fact, these foreign leukocytes in transfused red blood cells and platelets are often not well tolerated and have been associated with some types of transfusion complications so the blood dies out. Leukocytes present in stored blood products can have a variety of biological effects, including depression of immune function, which can result in organ failure and death. Because whole blood is rarely used for transfusion and not kept in routine inventory, the need for leukoreduced red blood cells is critical. After collection the whole blood is separated into red cells and plasma by centrifugation. A preservative solution is mixed with the red cells and the component is filtered with a leukoreduction filter. Shelf life for this product is 42 days.

The Red Cross is moving toward system-wide universal prestorage leukocyte reduction to improve patient care. From 1976 through 1985, the United States Food and Drug Administration received reports of 355 fatalities associated with transfusion, 99 of which were excluded from further review because they were unrelated to transfusion or involved hepatitis or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. While the FDA has not yet made leukoreduction a requirement, the American Red Cross has taken a leading role in implementing this procedure with a goal of leukoreducing all blood products. More than 70 percent of American Red Cross red blood cell components currently undergo prestorage leukoreduction, a filtering process that is done soon after blood is donated.

Research


The Red Cross operates the Jerome H. Holland
Jerome H. Holland
Jerome H. Holland was an educational administrator and diplomat.Jerome Heartwell Holland grew up in Auburn, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1939, after being the first African American to play on its football team...

 blood laboratory in Rockville, Maryland
Rockville, Maryland
Rockville is the county seat of Montgomery County, Maryland, United States. It is a major incorporated city in the central part of Montgomery County and forms part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. The 2010 U.S...

. Each year, the Red Cross invests more than $25 million in research activities at the Holland Laboratory and in the field.

Cellular therapies


The Red Cross is also treating people using cellular therapies; this new method of treatment involves collecting and treating blood cells from a patient or other blood donor. The treated cells are then introduced into a patient to help revive normal cell function; replace cells that are lost as a result of disease, accidents or aging; or used to prevent illnesses from appearing.

Cellular therapy may prove to be particularly helpful for patients who are being treated for illnesses such as cancer
Cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...

, where the treated cells may help battle cancerous cells.

Health and Safety Services


The American Red Cross provides first aid
First aid
First aid is the provision of initial care for an illness or injury. It is usually performed by non-expert, but trained personnel to a sick or injured person until definitive medical treatment can be accessed. Certain self-limiting illnesses or minor injuries may not require further medical care...

, Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest. It is indicated in those who are unresponsive...

 (CPR), Automated external defibrillator
Automated external defibrillator
An automated external defibrillator or AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of...

 (AED), water safety and lifeguard
Lifeguard
A lifeguard supervises the safety and rescue of swimmers, surfers, and other water sports participants such as in a swimming pool, water park, or beach. Lifeguards are strong swimmers and trained in first aid, certified in water rescue using a variety of aids and equipment depending on...

ing, babysitting, disaster preparedness, and home safety training throughout the United States. The training programs are primarily aimed at laypersons, workplaces, and aquatic facilities. The American Red Cross teaches around 12 million Americans these skills annually, ranging from youth to professional rescuers. In 2005 the American Red Cross co-led the 2005 Guidelines for First Aid, which aims to provide up-to-date and peer-reviewed first aid training materials. Many American Red Cross chapters also have for sale first aid kits, disaster kits, and similar, related equipment. Many chapters of the American Red Cross offer pet first aid courses to prepare pet owners and pet professionals for emergency situations. The American Red Cross also offers a pet first aid reference guide. This guide includes a 50-minute DVD that informs viewers about safety procedures and instructs on dealing with medical emergencies.

Disaster Services




Each year, the American Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (the majority of disaster responses), hurricanes, flood
Flood
A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

s, earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s, tornado
Tornado
A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact with both the surface of the earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. They are often referred to as a twister or a cyclone, although the word cyclone is used in meteorology in a wider...

es, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions, and other natural and man-made disasters.

Although the American Red Cross is not a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, the Red Cross was granted a congressional charter
Congressional charter
A congressional charter is a law passed by the United States Congress that states the mission, authority and activities of a group. Congress issued federal charters from 1791 until 1992 under Title 36 of the United States Code....

 to "carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same." The Charter is not only a grant of power, but also an imposition of duties and obligations to the nation, to disaster victims, and to the people who support its work with their donations.

American Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people's immediate emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter
Emergency shelter
Emergency shelters are places for people to live temporarily when they can't live in their previous residence, similar to homeless shelters. The main difference is that an emergency shelter typically specializes in people fleeing a specific type of situation, such as natural or man-made disasters,...

, food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

, and health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

 and mental health
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

 services to address basic human needs. In addition to these services, the core of Red Cross disaster relief is the assistance given to individuals and families affected by disaster to enable them to resume their normal daily activities independently. The organization also provides translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

 and interpretation
Interpreting
Language interpretation is the facilitating of oral or sign-language communication, either simultaneously or consecutively, between users of different languages...

 to those affected when necessary, and maintains a database of multilingual volunteers
Language bank
A language bank is an organization that helps people who need translation or interpretation services fulfill those needs through the assistance of qualified translators or interpreters. Such organizations usually, but not always, provide such services free of charge, often as a service of local...

 to enable this.

At the local level, American Red Cross chapters operate volunteer-staffed Disaster Action Teams
Disaster Action Team
A Disaster Action Team is the local disaster response unit in chapters of the American Red Cross.American Red Cross chapters have Disaster Action Teams , which provide disaster relief services on an on-call basis...

 that respond to disasters in their communities, such as house fires or floods.

The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers of other agencies, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps those affected by disaster to access other available resources. It is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and works closely with other agencies such as the Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

 and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
In the United States and Canada, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service is a corps of trained amateur radio operator volunteers organized to assist in public service and emergency communications...

 with whom it has Memorandums of Understanding.

The American Red Cross also works to encourage preparedness by providing important literature on readiness. Many chapters also offer free classes to the general public.

A major misconception by the general public is that the American Red Cross provides medical facilities, engages in search and rescue operations or deploys ambulances to disaster areas. As an emergency support agency, the American Red Cross does not engage in these first responder activities; instead, these first responder roles are left to local, state or federal agencies as dictated by the National Response Plan
National Response Plan
The National Response Plan was a United States national plan to respond to emergencies such as natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It came into effect in December 2004 , and was superseded by the National Response Framework on March 22, 2008....

. The confusion arises since other Red Cross societies across the globe may provide these functions; for example, the Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) runs a national ambulance
Ambulance
An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

 service. Furthermore, American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) look similar to ambulances. These ERVs instead are designed for bulk distribution of relief supplies, such as hot meals, drinks or other relief supplies. Although American Red Cross shelters usually have a nurse assigned to the facility, they are not equipped to provide medical care beyond emergency first aid.

Disaster Services Human Resources system


The Disaster Services Human Resources (DSHR) system enrolls volunteers from individual American Red Cross chapters into a national database of responders, classified by their ability to serve in one or more Activities within Groups. The activities vary from obvious ones such as feeding and sheltering ("Mass Care") to more specialized ones such as warehousing, damage assessment, financial accounting, radio and computer communications, public affairs and counseling. Responders must complete training requirements specific to the Activities they wish to serve in, as well as the basics required of all Disaster Service volunteers, which include a background check as well as training in First Aid,

National Response Framework


As a National Response Framework
National Response Framework
The United States National Response Framework is part of the National Strategy for Homeland Security that presents the guiding principles enabling all levels of domestic response partners to prepare for and provide a unified national response to disasters and emergencies...

 support agency, the American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides other types of emergency relief to victims of disasters. The American Red Cross is also a co-lead with FEMA for the mass care portion of the Emergency Support Function 6. This role gives the American Red Cross the joint responsibility for planning and coordinating mass care services with FEMA. The American Red Cross also has responsibilities under other Emergency Support Functions, such as providing health and mental health services.

2005 Hurricanes


Forecasting a major disaster before the landfall of Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

, the Red Cross enlisted 2,000 volunteers throughout the nation to be on a "stand by" deployment list.

According to the American Red Cross, during and after the Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma and Rita, they opened 1,470 different shelters across and registered 3.8 million overnight stays. A total of 300,000 Red Cross workers (82% of whom were non-paid volunteers) were utilized to provide sheltering, casework, communication and assessment services throughout these three hurricanes. In addition, 346,980 comfort kits (which contain hygiene essentials such as toothpaste, soap, washclothes and toys for children) and 205,360 clean up kits (containing brooms, mops and bleach) were distributed. For mass care, the organization served 68 million snacks and meals to victims of the disasters and to rescue workers. The Red Cross also had their Disaster Health services meet 596,810 contacts, and Disaster Mental Health services meet 826,590 contacts. Red Cross emergency financial assistance was provided to 1.4 million families, which encompassed a total of 4 million people. Hurricane Katrina was the first natural disaster in the United States that the American Red Cross utilized their "Safe and Well" family location website.

On February 3, 2006, 5 months after Katrina's landfall, the American Red Cross announced that it had met its fundraising goals, and would no longer engage in new 2005 Hurricane relief fundraising. The National organization urged the public to help other charities engaged in hurricane relief work, or to donate to their local Red Cross chapters. An American Red Cross statement was issued saying that 91 cents of every dollar donated specifically for the Hurricane Katrina disaster will go directly to disaster relief.

Comair Flight 5191


In response to the crash of commuter aircraft Comair
Comair
Comair is a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Air Lines headquartered on the grounds of Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport in unincorporated Boone County, Kentucky, United States, west of Erlanger, and south of Cincinnati, Ohio...

 Flight 5191
Comair Flight 5191
Comair Flight 191, marketed as Delta Connection Flight 5191, was a scheduled United States domestic passenger flight from Lexington, Kentucky, to Atlanta, Georgia, operated on behalf of Delta Connection by Comair...

, the Bluegrass Area Chapter and the American Red Cross Critical Response Team (CRT) members were dispatched to the scene. This was the worst air disaster within the United States since American Airlines
American Airlines
American Airlines, Inc. is the world's fourth-largest airline in passenger miles transported and operating revenues. American Airlines is a subsidiary of the AMR Corporation and is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas adjacent to its largest hub at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport...

 Flight 587
American Airlines Flight 587
American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300, crashed into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens, a borough of New York City, New York, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport on November 12, 2001. This is the second deadliest U.S...

. Family and Friends reception centers were established near the arrival and departure airports and in Cincinnati, site of the Comair headquarters. Local chapters in Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

, Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 provided health, mental health to family members and friends of the victims not present in Lexington. Volunteers also staffed the local Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

, the incident command post at the airport site and the State EOC. As of August 29, 2006, 400 meals had been served by the American Red Cross to family and friends of those involved in the crash, in addition to rescue workers. The Red Cross provided emotional support to the family members of the victims at a nearby Service Center.

2007 Florida Tornadoes


In response to the Central Florida Tornado of February 2007, the American Red Cross began a large scale disaster relief operation. At least seven shelters have been opened in the disaster affected region, with Southern Baptists starting to provide food. 40,000 pre-packaged meals are being sent by the American Red Cross, and across the nation, almost 400 Red Cross volunteers are being deployed to assist with the local relief efforts. The organization has also deployed more than 30 Emergency Response Vehicles for community food and supply distribution.

2007 Kansas Tornadoes


The American Red Cross immediately responded to the May 2007 Tornado Outbreak
May 2007 Tornado Outbreak
The May 2007 Tornado Outbreak was an extended tornado outbreak that started on May 4, 2007, affecting portions of the Central United States. The most destructive tornado in the outbreak occurred on the evening of May 4 in western Kansas, where about 95% of the city of Greensburg in Kiowa County was...

 in central Kansas by setting up emergency shelters for hundreds of displaced residents and started the distribution of food, water and relief supplies. The 'Safe and Well' family notification website for locating missing loved ones was also activated.

Minneapolis Bridge Collapse


Following the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, the American Red Cross of the Twin Cities Area Chapter responded with their Disaster Action Team
Disaster Action Team
A Disaster Action Team is the local disaster response unit in chapters of the American Red Cross.American Red Cross chapters have Disaster Action Teams , which provide disaster relief services on an on-call basis...

 to provide families and rescuers food, information and comfort. A family service center was set up close to the accident site, along with deploying mental health counselors to numerous locations. Donations contributed for this cause totaled US$138,368 and covered the cost of Red Cross services but not $65,000 in unexpected expenses. Weather conditions and the collapse placed 70% of Minnesota counties in federal primary or contiguous disaster areas during August 2007. As of August 24, 2007 the Red Cross needed Disaster Relief Fund donations for the flooding
2007 Midwest flooding
The 2007 Midwest flooding was a major flooding event that occurred in the Midwestern United States in the third week of August 2007. While Hurricane Dean was affecting the Yucatán Peninsula and the Gulf of Mexico, and Tropical Storm Erin was affecting Oklahoma and Texas, a persistent storm system...

 in the Midwestern United States
Midwestern United States
The Midwestern United States is one of the four U.S. geographic regions defined by the United States Census Bureau, providing an official definition of the American Midwest....

 including Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 that followed a prolonged drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

. On August 8, 2007, the Twin Cities chapter lowered the United States, state of Minnesota and Red Cross flags to half-staff
Half-staff
Half-staff is the American term for to describe a flag flying a flag below the summit of the flagpole . The rest of the English-speaking world uses the term half-mast. Technically the flag should be flown one breadth lower to allow for the invisible flag of death...

 indefinitely.

International Services


The American Red Cross, as part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is an international humanitarian movement with approximately 97 million volunteers, members and staff worldwide which was founded to protect human life and health, to ensure respect for all human beings, and to prevent and alleviate human...

 and its nearly 100 million volunteers, educates and mobilizes communities to overcome life-threatening vulnerabilities. The core focus areas of the American Red Cross International Services Department are global health, disaster preparedness and response, and Restoring Family Links and International Humanitarian Law dissemination. The American Red Cross is involved with many international projects, such as the Measles Initiative, malaria programs in Africa, disaster responses worldwide, and relief efforts in response to the 2004 South Asia tsunami.

Disaster Preparedness and Response


American Red Cross international disaster response and preparedness programs provide relief and development assistance to millions of people annually who suffer as a result of natural and human-made disasters around the world. To respond quickly and effectively, the American Red Cross has pre-positioned emergency relief supplies in three warehouses managed by the International Federation in Dubai, Malaysia and Panama, which are used to respond to disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, ongoing crises in Africa and hurricanes in the Caribbean and the Americas. An Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is another method with which the American Red Cross responds to international emergencies. An ERU is made up of trained personnel and pre-packaged technical equipment that is crucial in responding to sudden, large-scale disasters and emergencies in remote locations. American Red Cross ERUs specialize in providing emergency relief supplies and IT and Telecommunications for Red Cross response operations.

2010 Haiti Earthquake


On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 Mw
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

 earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 struck the Haitian
Haitian
Haitian may refer to:* A person or thing of, from, or related to the country of Haiti* Haitian Creole language * Haitian cuisine* Haitian , minor character in the 2006 television series Heroes...

 coast 10 miles from the capital of Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

, causing massive damage, more than 200,000 deaths and displacing nearly 2 million people from their homes.

As of March 2011, the American Red Cross announced it had allocated $314.7 million for Haiti earthquake relief and recovery. The American Red Cross is funding recovery projects to provide transitional homes, health services, disaster preparedness, water and sanitation improvements and livelihoods development. Its projects touch lives such as providing funds for school fees for affected families. At of June 2011, the American Red Cross had raised approximately $484 million for Haiti relief and recovery efforts.

Global Health Initiatives


American Red Cross International Services global health initiatives focus on preventing and combating infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and measles on a large scale. Through cost-effective, community-based health interventions, the American Red Cross targets large numbers of people in need and focuses on accessibility and equity of care, community participation, and integration with other community development initiatives, such as water and sanitation projects and food and nutrition programs.

An example of the American Red Cross International Services health programming is the Measles Initiative
Measles Initiative
Measles Initiative , launched in 2001, is a long-term commitment and partnership among leaders in public health and supports the goal of reducing measles deaths globally by 90% by 2010 compared to 2000 estimates.-Impact:...

, launched in 2001, as a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally. The initiative provides technical and financial support to governments and communities on vaccination campaigns and disease surveillance worldwide. Leading these efforts are the American Red Cross, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF and the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

. The Measles Initiative has supported vaccination campaigns in more than 60 countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. Since 2001, the initiative has helped vaccinate one billion children in more than 60 developing countries. The Initiative increasingly provides additional complementary health interventions in its campaigns. The Measles Initiative and its partners supported the distribution of more than 37 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets for malaria prevention, 81 million doses of de-worming medicine, 95 million doses of polio vaccine, and 186 million doses of vitamin A.

On December 2006, the American Red Cross joined as a founding partner of the Malaria No More campaign. The campaign was formed by leading non-governmental organizations to inspire individuals, institutions and organizations in the private sector to support a comprehensive approach to end malaria, a devastating but preventable disease The American Red Cross supported local Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers in Africa who were educating families and communities about malaria prevention and treatment, such as proper and consistent use of insecticide-treated bed nets. The American Red Cross provided technical assistance and capacity-building support to its partners to fight malaria in difficult-to-reach communities.

International Tracing Requests


The American Red Cross handles international tracing requests and searches for families who have been separated by war or natural or man-made disaster and are trying to locate relatives worldwide. This is not a genealogical service but one that attempts to re-establish contact between family members separated at a time of war or disaster. Restoring Family Links services also provide the exchange of hand-written Red Cross Messages between individuals and their relatives who may be refugees or prisoners of war. At any given time, the American Red Cross Restoring Family Links program is handling the aftermath of 20-30 wars and conflicts. The worldwide structure of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross make this service possible. When new information from many former Soviet Union archives became available in the 1990s, a special unit, named the Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center, was created to handle World War II and Holocaust tracing services.

International Humanitarian Law


As part of its mission, American Red Cross International Services has a mandate to educate the American public about the guiding principles of international humanitarian law (IHL) for conduct in warfare as set forth by the Geneva Conventions of 1949. In doing so, American Red Cross International Services provides support to American Red Cross chapters nationwide in their IHL dissemination efforts, offering IHL courses and providing training opportunities for IHL instructors. It is also working toward the implementation of the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program in the United States.

Service to the Armed Forces



Although not a government agency, the American Red Cross provides emergency and non-emergency services to the United States military. The most notable service is emergency family communications, where families can contact the Red Cross to send important family messages (such as a death in the family, or new birth). In such, the Red Cross can also act as a verifying agency of the situation. The American Red Cross works closely with other military societies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

, to provide other services to service members and their families. The American Red Cross is not involved with prisoners of war; rather, these are monitored by the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

, an international body distinctly independent of any nation.

One criticism of Red Cross services to the military stems from stories about the American Red Cross charging troops during the Second World War and Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 token fees for "comfort items" such as toothpaste, coffee, donuts, and cigarettes and for off-base food and lodging. The fee suggestion had been made in a letter dated March 1942 from the Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson
Henry L. Stimson
Henry Lewis Stimson was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He twice served as Secretary of War 1911–1913 under Republican William Howard Taft and 1940–1945, under Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the latter role he was a leading hawk...

 to Norman H. Davis, the chairman of the American Red Cross. The suggestion was that allied soldiers were being charged money so Americans should be charged too so as to "ensure an equitable distribution among all service personnel of Red Cross resources". The Red Cross subsequently adopted the Secretary's suggestion as policy at the time.

During the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 627 American women served in the American Red Cross Supplemental Recreation Overseas Program. At the invitation of the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 the "Donut Dollies" provided morale-boosting games to soldiers. Due to the mobility of the UH-1 Iroquois
UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a military helicopter powered by a single, turboshaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army's requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew...

, Vietnam Donut Dollies were able to visit troops in forward operating positions. The 2008 documentary film A Touch of Home tells the story of these women.

Johnson & Johnson suit over Red Cross image


On August 7, 2007, Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson is an American multinational pharmaceutical, medical devices and consumer packaged goods manufacturer founded in 1886. Its common stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the company is listed among the Fortune 500....

 filed suit against the American Red Cross over its sublicensing of the Red Cross image for the production of first aid kits and similar products, which are alleged to compete with Johnson & Johnson. The suit also asked for the destruction of all currently existing non-Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Emblem bearing products and demands the American Red Cross pay punitive damages
Punitive damages
Punitive damages or exemplary damages are damages intended to reform or deter the defendant and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit...

 and Johnson & Johnson's legal fees.

The Red Cross' position was that it has licensed its name to first aid kit makers in an effort to encourage readiness for disasters, and that the revenues from its products are reinvested in humanitarian work. Johnson & Johnson responded, stating that the Red Cross's commercial ventures were outside the scope of historically well-agreed usage, and were in direct violation of federal statutes.

On May 14, 2008, a federal judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in its suit. In June, 2008, the two organizations announced a settlement had been reached in which both parties would continue to use the symbol.

Court ordered consent decree


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took court action against the American Red Cross in response to deficiencies in their tracking and procedures for ensuring the safety of the blood supply. The consent decree outlines some of the violations of federal law that the American Red Cross engaged in before 1993. Fines were imposed in the millions of dollars.

In response to the decree, Red Cross Biomedical Services now has a standardized computer
Computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 system that maintains the blood donor database; five, National Testing Laboratories (NTLs) that test about 6 million units of blood collected by the Red Cross's 36 blood regions; the Charles Drew Biomedical Institute, which allows for the Red Cross to provide training and other educational resources to Red Cross Blood Services' personnel; a Quality Assurance/Regulatory Affairs Department, which helps to ensure compliance with FDA regulations; and, a centrally managed blood inventory system to ensure the availability of blood and blood components.

In an agreement with the American Red Cross the Consent Decree was amended in 2003 with penalties for specific violations.

The FDA can impose penalties after April 2003 up to the following maximum amounts:
  • $10,000 per event (and $10,000 per day) for any violation of an ARC standard operating procedure (SOP), the law, or consent decree requirement and timeline
  • $50,000 for preventable release of each unit of blood for which FDA determines that there is a reasonable probability that the product may cause serious adverse health consequences or death
    • $5,000 for the release of each unit that may cause temporary problems, up to a maximum of $500,000 per event
  • $50,000 for the improper re-release of each unsuitable blood unit that was returned to ARC inventory
  • $10,000 for each donor inappropriately omitted from the National Donor Deferral Registry, a list of all unsuitable donors


The Food and Drug Administration has continued to apply pressure and fines to the American Red Cross in order to enforce compliance with regulations. The most recent, $1.7 million, in June 2008.

September 11 controversy


In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, the Red Cross, like many charitable organizations, solicited funds and blood donations for Red Cross activities for the victims of the attacks. Dr. Bernadine Healy
Bernadine Healy
Bernadine Patricia Healy was an American physician, cardiologist, academic and a former head of the National Institutes of Health . She was a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University, professor and dean of the College of Medicine and Public Health at the Ohio State University, and served...

, the president of the American Red Cross, appeared on telethons urging individuals to give generously. However, according to America's Blood Centers, the non-profit consortium that provides the other 50% of the United States blood supply, no national blood drive was needed, since localized blood drives in the affected areas would be sufficient to meet the demand. The American Red Cross felt that the terrorist attacks were a sign of increased instability and urged people to donate blood, even though it was not needed at that time. In the end, some of the unused blood was destroyed.

Also, the American Red Cross created the Liberty Fund that was ostensibly designed for relief for victims of the terrorist attacks. However, when the fund was closed in October, after exceeding the goals of donations, only 30% of the $547 million received was spent as the standard disaster relief guidelines for meeting victims needs had been supplied to them. Dr. Healy announced that the majority of the remainder of the money would be used to increase blood supply, improve telecommunications, and prepare for terror attacks in other parts of the country.

In February 2002, The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

magazine carried a column saying American Red Cross representatives were visiting upscale apartment buildings in wealthy Manhattan neighborhoods and distributing donated money (up to three months' rent or mortgage payments) to New Yorkers who had been "displaced, traumatized, or merely inconvenienced" by the terrorist attacks, without any regard to whether the recipients were actually in financial need.

Many donors felt that they had donated specifically to the victims of the September 11 attacks and objected to Healy's official plan for the diversion of funds. Survivors complained of the bureaucratic process involved in requesting funds and the slow delivery of the checks to meet immediate needs. Congressional hearings were called and New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Spitzer
Eliot Laurence Spitzer is an American lawyer, former Democratic Party politician, and political commentator. He was the co-host of In the Arena, a talk-show and punditry forum broadcast on CNN until CNN cancelled his show in July of 2011...

 investigated the Red Cross. In the end, the American Red Cross appointed former U.S. senator George Mitchell
George J. Mitchell
George John Mitchell, Jr., is the former U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace under the Obama administration. A Democrat, Mitchell was a United States Senator who served as the Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995...

 to handle distribution of the funds. Dr. Healy was forced to resign for her role in the situation, and the Red Cross pledged that all funds would go to directly benefit the victims of the September 11 attacks. Healy received a severance payment of $1,569,630. In the end, out of the $961 million received, 71% went as cash assistance to those directly affected, 15% went for long term mental care and hospital care for the victims and people in the affected region, and 10% went for immediate disaster relief like shelters, food, and health care. The remaining 4% went for administration.
Significant changes to Red Cross fundraising collection and policy have since been implemented after the Liberty Fund debacle. Numerous watchdog organizations, such as Charity Navigator, have since given high praise to the improved system of honoring donor's intent and minimizing administration costs.

Blood Donation Controversy



The American Red Cross has for many years faced criticism from LGBT
LGBT
LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" people. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the...

 advocacy organizations for prohibiting men who have sex with men
Men who have sex with men
Men who have sex with men are male persons who engage in sexual activity with members of the same sex, regardless of how they identify themselves; many men choose not to accept sexual identities of homosexual or bisexual...

 from donating blood. This policy is in fact a requirement for all blood collection companies and organizations in the United States, as outlined by the US Food and Drug Administration
Food and Drug Administration
The Food and Drug Administration is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, one of the United States federal executive departments...

. Specifically, the FDA classifies "Men who have had sex with another man even one time since 1977... Unsuitable Donors who Are at Increased Risk for HIV". Consequently, the American Red Cross is legally unable to collect blood from men who have sex with men. The organization in 2006, along with the AABB
AABB
The AABB is a United States-based professional body and standards organization that was founded in 1947 as the American Association of Blood Banks. The organization is now international with members in 80 countries and has taken on a broader scope to include all of transfusion medicine as well as...

 and America’s Blood Centers, petitioned to the FDA to remove the requirement from blood donations, citing better screening technologies. Despite the petition, the FDA has yet to reverse its stance on the issue.

Volunteer background and credit check controversy


In 2006, the American Red Cross imposed a new policy requiring mandatory checks of all volunteers' backgrounds, including credit check and "mode of living" investigations. Objections were raised over both the intrusive nature of the checks and the lack of limits on the use of the information gathered.

As a result, many longtime volunteers chose not to continue their association with ARC. Amateur radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 operators especially resisted, complaining that volunteers who bring hundreds or thousands of dollars in communications and computer equipment to an event have more to worry about from the ARC than the ARC does from them. Some of these transferred their activity to the Salvation Army
Salvation Army
The Salvation Army is a Protestant Christian church known for its thrift stores and charity work. It is an international movement that currently works in over a hundred countries....

 and its SATERN disaster radio network.

In response, ARC extended the deadline for compliance, and announced that the credit and "mode of living" checks would not be required. However, the updated application forms have continued to include an authorization for these checks, listing them only as a "consumer investigative report", according to the American Radio Relay League
American Radio Relay League
The American Radio Relay League is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the USA. ARRL is a non-profit organization, and was founded in May 1914 by Hiram Percy Maxim of Hartford, Connecticut...

.

Political influence controversy


As president, Elizabeth Dole
Elizabeth Dole
Mary Elizabeth Alexander Hanford "Liddy" Dole is an American politician who served in both the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush presidential administrations, as well as a United States Senator....

 overruled professional staff and ordered an AIDS prevention manual to be rewritten to make references to homosexuality, premarital sex and condom use more responsive to conservative critics, according to The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

, which said that she allowed politics to affect Red Cross policies in many ways.

Hurricane Katrina controversy


In March 2006, investigations of allegations of fraud and theft by volunteers and contractors within the American Red Cross Katrina operations were launched by the Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 Attorney-General and the FBI
Federal Bureau of Investigation
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency . The FBI has investigative jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crime...

. In response, the American Red Cross increased its internal and external education of the organization's fraud and waste hotline for confidential reporting to a third party agency. The organization also elected to implement a background check policy for all volunteers and staff, starting in 2006.

In April 2006, an unnamed former American Red Cross official leaked reports made by the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 and the British Red Cross
British Red Cross
The British Red Cross Society is the United Kingdom branch of the worldwide impartial humanitarian organisation the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The society was formed in 1870, and is a registered charity with over 31,000 volunteers and 2,600 staff. At the heart of their work...

. Such reports are typical in a large-scale disaster relief operation involving other national Red Cross societies to solicit their input, but are usually confidential and not released to the general public. These particular reports were particularly critical of American Red Cross operations in Hurricane Katrina affected regions, although the British Red Cross report highly praised the American Red Cross volunteers in their efforts.

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